Weekend Preview, January 19-20, 2013

Miami is the only undefeated team left in ACC play, but they will not put that distinction on the line this weekend.  Here’s a look at who will be taking the floor this Saturday and Sunday in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Maryland at North Carolina: Maryland pulled off a nail-biting win against NC State this week, but now they’ll travel (hopefully with great safety, considering weather in North Carolina) to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels.  Of course, Maryland folks are probably more acclimated to snow than North Carolina natives.

It’s hard to imagine anybody for North Carolina having a good game against Maryland’s big men, so the emphasis will be on the Tar Heels even more than usual to open the offense up with three-point offense.

This seems like a game that should play right into Maryland’s strengths.  If the Terrapin defense was able to smother NC State’s prolific offense earlier this week, then Maryland fans can reasonably hope they will have similar success against a largely one-dimensional Tar Heel offense.  With that said, they will have to make some shots on the other end, which they struggled to do even in that NC State win.

Wake Forest at Virginia Tech: Here’s two teams coming from opposite directions.  Wake Forest suffered a 60-44 loss at Clemson after winning two straight, while Virginia Tech won in overtime last Saturday against Georgia Tech to snap a losing skid.

Both of Wake Forest’s conference wins thus far have come at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, so it’s reasonable to expect the Deacons to struggle at Cassell Coliseum.  Defensively, I’m not sure who will be able to slow down Erick Green. Okay, there may not be anyone in the conference who can do that, but I’m especially skeptical with Wake’s options.

However, the Hokies, partially due to their extreme lack of depth, have found themselves in foul trouble in a couple of conference games so far.  The Demon Deacons don’t do a lot of things well, but they do get to the free throw line a lot.  It might be harder to get calls on the road, but if Wake Forest attacks the Hokies, rather than settling for bad shots, they could swing the matchup heavily in their favor.

Florida State at Virginia: The Seminoles and Cavaliers will meet, both coming off a week-long layover from losses last Saturday.

Virginia will be looking to improve on its offense in this game. The Cavaliers are one of two ACC teams with a two-point shooting percentage below 40% in ACC play.  They have plenty of capable three-point shooters, but it’s much harder to get those looks when the defense is keying on them because you can’t make shots inside the arc.

Florida State, meanwhile, will hope to capitalize on a Cavalier offense that has been mistake-prone in ACC play.  The ‘Hoos are averaging 14.5 turnovers in their last two games … and those two games against Wake Forest and Clemson, which makes the ability to turn over the ball so much on so few possessions almost impressively bad.  The Seminoles generated 18 turnovers against Maryland on January 9, and will look for a repeat performance to return to their winning ways.

Clemson at NC State: Clemson’s won two straight at home, but now they’ll head to Raleigh to face a Wolfpack team that suffered a loss to Maryland Wednesday.

Clemson probably liked a lot of what they saw in the tape of that Maryland game, too.  When NC State was unable to score inside due to the defensive efforts of Alex Len, the Wolfpack offense faltered, struggling to find an identity or rhythm.  Between Devin Booker’s physicality and K.J. McDaniels’ athleticism, the Tigers will certainly give NC State fits inside.

However, Clemson struggled against Duke and Florida State in defending the three-pointer.  The Wolfpack offense is at its best when Scott Wood is knocking down open treys. He is particularly dangerous in transition, as defenses either do not get back quickly enough or focus on filling the paint and fail to cover Wood on the wings.

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